Jury of top experts to pick market-creating innovations for EU funding
The European Commission today unveiled the names of 85(*) investment and innovation experts from 26 countries who will select the best innovations for funding under Phase 2 of the SME Instrument. Selection will now be based on both paper applications and face-to-face interviews.
The new jury of experts will start working from the next SME Instrument Phase 2 cut-off date on 10 January. The jury has been set up as part of a revamped assessment process introduced under the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot to better identify radical, market-creating innovations by taking full account of the personal qualities and motivations of the applicants. Under the new system, therefore, companies that pass the initial selection stage for up to €2.5 million of SME Instrument Phase 2 funding, will have to pitch their innovation projects in front of the jury of experts. This will complement the existing paper-based assessment.
The jury members have been selected in an open and transparent way following a call for expressions of interest. The jury consists of around 15% business angels, 20% entrepreneurs, 20% venture capitalists, with other experts coming from larger corporates, innovation hubs and accelerators. The majority of the experts are women.
The SME Instrument supports top-class innovators, entrepreneurs, small companies and scientists with funding opportunities and accompanying services to scale up and accelerate their innovations onto European and global markets. This will benefit Europe's productivity and international competitiveness and generate new jobs and higher standards of living.
In October 2017 the Commission had announced how it will spend €30 billion of the EU research and innovation funding programme Horizon 2020, including €2.7 billion to kick-start a European Innovation Council. Until 2020, the Commission will seek greater impact of its research funding by focusing on fewer, but critical topics such as migration, security, climate, clean energy and digital economy. Horizon 2020 will also be more geared towards boosting breakthrough, market-creating innovation.
The European Innovation Council is currently in a pilot phase in which new approaches, such as interviews by jury, are being tested within the Horizon 2020 programme. A fully fledged EIC is expected to be part of the next EU research and innovation programme.